Private bathroom? When and why

Recommendation 46
Considerations for a private versus a communal bathroom

Chapter (theme)
architectural spaces (bathrooms and toilets)

Because of
stereotypical patterns (preoccupations, rigidity), motor awkwardness, ToM, executive functioning, proprioception: body image

In order to
In treatment and long-stay homes a choice between common bathrooms and private ones within ones’ living space is unavoidable. Since the problems of children who live at home spans the whole autistic spectrum, such a decision will also come up there, assuming a separate facility is within the realm of possibilities.
A private bathroom is to be preferred, unless pressing reasons exist to make the other choice. The disadvantages of a bathroom which has to be shared with the whole family is that its use can lead to irritations and conflicts between the members of the household. These can be caused or exacerbated by an inability to put oneself in the position of the other and by a tendency to make bathing into an extended ritual. (See recommendation 48.)

The most important reason to decide against a private bathroom (which not necessarily, but in practice will mostly come down to the communal bathroom) is when parental guidance and/or supervision is necessary. This will, among other things, be so in cases of:

  • Awkward motor functions which carry the risk of falling or otherwise hurting oneself, especially in small and often wet spaces
  • Insufficient self-reliance: the inability to plan and execute relatively complex series of actions. Undressing, washing, handling faucets, drying and dressing may be tasks which demand too much from the child
  • poor conception of ‘personal hygiene’
  • ‘incomplete body image’ which, in the experience of the Kannerhuis-workers, may include not knowing ones’ body has a backside
  • children who refuse to wash or have an aversion to it
  • children who aren’t toilet trained. (This applies to almost half of the autistic children below four years of age, see the theme of this recommendation.)